Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Inexpensive Remote Camera Set Up

No pictures to go along with this post yet, but they will be coming soon.

So, you want to shoot some remote shots this summer of baseball or soccer, maybe some track and field but have no clue how to do it? Well you can for around $10,000. Whoa....I know what you are saying. "I thought this was suppose to be inexpensive!" Well, just wait. The ideal remote set up would be a 1Ds series camera, a lens (depends on what you shoot), a floor mount and ball head, triggering wire, pocket wizard, maybe a dust cover or rain cover. You want the 1Ds series for the wide angle. Low angle shots look great with a wide angle lens. Just think of a camera right at the back of a soccer goal capturing a laid out goalie reaching for a ball with the shooter and defenders in mid action, or a long jumper taking off from the line exploding for a huge take off. Set it up, prefocus, hook up a pocket wizard, set up in your normal shooting position and fire away. Shot comes up in your remote location, grab the pocket wizard and trigger the camera. Bam. Easy, huh?

So you do not have $10000 to drop on a remote set up? about around $1000? Less than that if you already have a second camera in your arsenal. Taylor this to your own needs, but this is what I am am using for a remote camera set up.

One Digital Rebel Xt. Not a full frame camera, but it is small, light, and cheap as DSLRs go. For a floor mount, I am using of all things, a small wheel barrow wheel. Wal-Mart sells these for about $3. I picked up the axle bolt that goes along with it for about $1 more. This bolt just happens to be the same size as a camera tripod ball mount socket. 1/4". put this together and you have a pretty sturdy mount for a camera at about 8" to 12" off the ground. On the Rebel, depending on the sport, I will mount a 17-40 up to a 70-200 lens. You could get away with using the 10-22 EF-S lens if you have it. Ok. The camera is, how do I trigger it? I am using single channel radio slaves I got from ebay. Spent about $30 on them. They are not the best, and now come in 4 and 16 channel versions. The receivers are about 3.5" long and around 1.25" wide and run on 2 AA batteries. Plug the phono plug into the miniplug adapter and plug that into a miniplug to 3/32 miniplug adapter. Now prior to hooking this to your camera, you need to make sure your camera is set up to shoot. Shoot in manual (hand held meter is handy to set exposure) have the camera set to "burst" mode and set the focus. Put the lens into MF mode. Now, plug the 3/32 plug into the cable release port on the camera, and you are good to go. Not the range of a pocket wizard, but if you have the camera set up at home plate looking up to 3rd base and you are shooting from around 3rd base or 1st base, you should be able to trigger it no problem. Even though the camera is set to "burst", it will only shoot one frame each time you trigger it. Holding the transmitter button down will not keep shooting. However, if you are shooting with a second camera, and do not mind a lot of extra junk frames, put the transmitter onto your hotshoe and every time time you take a picture, the remote camera will fire. Now if you are shooting with a 1D series at 8fps and using a Rebel for a remote, for every 8 shots you take consecutively, the Rebel will only shoot at 3fps.

I will be posting some test shots this weekend. I will be using this set up for a special feature assignment. So more to come.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Personal Project

Even with baseball season in Alaska quickly approaching, the Globetrotters on the near horizon, and a few other for pay projects coming up, I have started work on a personal project. I hear a lot of people feel there is nothing to do in Eagle River, that we just do not have anything going on out here. My project over the next year will be to photographically document businesses in the Eagle River area. My goal is to not only photograph the hot spots of Eagle River, but the little known hangouts, the different businesses in the area that offer all different kinds of services, and so much more. My goal is to either have the Eagle River/Chugiak Chamber of Commerce publish the photos in guides to the area or have the Alaska Star run a weekly spotlight of businesses and service providers in the area. If you are a business owner in the Chugiak/Eagle River area and would like to assist me with this project, please contact me via email at

Setting Up Youth Sports Galleries

Reposted from a post I made at

With little league upon most of us, I thought I would start this thread to give tips for those of us who shoot an sell online. I bring this up today because I recently have had three or four people ask me to look at their online galleries. All of them needed help, but one stood out as it required me to click 5 times after opening a gallery to view just the first image. When I was done, I had 6 pop up ads and a new friend lurking around in my computer that ad-aware had to find for me. The one gallery I looked at had 273 photos and the first two pages were of the pitcher throwing only three pitches. Ok, so if my kid is playing left field or hitting 6th in the order, and I am on page three now and have not seen anything but one player so far, I get board real quick.

Now these are just some of my tips. I encourage those of you who do sell online to share some of your tips that make things easier for you.

First things first. Have permission from the league prior to shooting a game and posting images. While games may be played on public fields, it is not ok just to start shooting and selling without the officials giving the ok. Never add information about the players on the site like names or addresses (duh!) and respected the wishes of anyone who wants their child's photo taken down. Have password protection of your galleries as an option in case parents or the league asks for it.

For youth sports, I find a mix of action and sportraits work great. As Paul said in one of his posts recently, go tight. Be sure your images are coming out of the camera properly exposed with correct WB and in sharp focus. Try your best to get your horizons straight and compose so you do not have to crop. Lenses are not long enough to reach the center fielder? Shoot an inning down the line in the outfield area then. If your lens will not get you the shot, then move to where it can.

When you download your images, take the time to go through and delete your junk photos. Missed shots, OOF, etc. etc. Please, do not post these. When I shoot 3 games in a day, this step alone can take only about 5-10 minutes. If you download correctly, you should be saving your images to two places (at least that is how I do it). One set to archive and one to work from. So as you delete, your archived originals are not being touched.

After you have done the first quick edit. I like taking the photos from each game and putting them in their own folder. I then go through again and tag the best shots to post. If I shoot 300 photos in a game, I will post anywhere from 40-80. Yes, I could post more, but why make the parents go through photos that look the same? With a 20D or 30D, you are looking at 5fps and with the 1D series, 8fps. So you shoot off a burst of the pitcher throwing, and again, and again. So you have up to 24-30 photos of the kid throwing 3 pitches. Do not post all of them. Pick your best shot from the wind up, the apex of the throw, and the release and post only those. Same with batting. Kids tend to swing the same over and over again, so, while you may have a lot of shots of a kid swinging because you were trying for that great Bat on Ball shot, is there really any need to post every single shot of the kid swinging? If you post you best, you have a better chance of selling it than you do selling 3 or 4 or 10 of the same kid doing the same thing.

Once you get your images down to a browsable number, post. Do not worry about doing any work on the images now. After all, you exposed correctly, right? You had the WB set right and they are in focus? So, what ever you use for your host, upload the photos. Any work I do on my pictures is lost in the translation during the resize and web presentation to my galleries, and I do not want to work on the same photos twice.

To cut down on workflow, I like to shoot youth sports in large jpg (more images per card), with sRGB and the saturation, contrast, and sharpening bumped to +1. Why? Let's say you shoot 6 games in two days. You have every shot you posted purchased in 1 weeks time. Do you really want to have to process 300 images? I will take a test shot from the game, and create an action for it for printing. Basically what it will consist of is a tweak of the curves (maybe) or levels (again, maybe), boost the saturation a little, and sharpen. If I get an order, I can open the image, run the action I named 4-29-06 game 1 and move on. If I have a bunch of shots? I run it as a batch for each game. It just makes things easier. And it is real easy to set up. I have a shortcut in photoshop that when I open my test image (any shot from the normal circumstances in the game) I hit a short cut that starts recording a new action which I name. When I am done, all I have to watch out for are shots that the action will not work with (dug out shots, slow shutter speed stuff...etc.) With practice, this gets easier and makes the workflow easy.

When creating a gallery, make it easy to find/view. I absolutely can not stand going to look at photos, clicking on a link and having a new window pop up. Click on the image to see a larger version and have another window pop up, and please, do not use a host that has pop up ads. Easy navigation is key. While you may think a lot of html gimmicks look cool, remember who is browsing your site. Mothers with little time on their hands to spend an hour trying to find the images of their kid you took last week.

Tackle your orders quickly. Never make a customer wait longer than they have to. If you are doing the printing and postage and stuff, get custom envelopes/mailers. Make it look professional. If you rely on a lab to print and send your stuff out, make sure you know what the quality is to make sure it will suit you.

I will not talk about pricing or different products to offer because that all depends on your individual talent, location, and competition.

Easter Sunday

April 16th, 2006: Eagle River, AK - Pastor Martin Eldred of Joy Lutheran Church in Eagle River delivers his Easter Sunday Sermon.

Intoduction to Photobag

Welcome to my new blog. I intend Photobag to share photos, photojournalism, tips, tricks, and much more. To start off, let me tell you a little about me. I have been seriously taking photos since my junior year in high school. That was in 1988 in Seattle, Washington. Currently, I am based in South Central Alaska and work as a freelance photojournalist. I freelance for various newspapers all over the state of Alaska, as well as the Seattle Times. I shoot for a world wide sports wire service, Icon SMI and I am represented by the sports photo agency NewSport. I am a senior member of and the Sports Corner moderator for While my specialty is obviously Sports, I do a lot of stock photography if wildlife (I live in Alaska after all), feature photography, spot news, event, and portrait photography. I have a background in Architectural and Forensic Engineering photography and run a Youth Sports Photography business in the Anchorage area.

I am not a gear head, well, I am, but I do not think the gear you have dictates how good your photographs are. I fully believe, no mater what your gear consists of, as long as you know your gear and its limitations, as well as an understanding of composition and a basic understanding of the subjects you are photographing will yield good photos. However, practice, studying, practice, and more practice along with a strong understanding of photographic styles and a very good knowledge of what you photograph is key in producing great photographs.

My current gear consists of Canon Digital SLR's, a 1D and a Rebel Xt. Along with this I have a variety of Canon lenses, speedlights, strobes. I am Windows based and use PhotoMechanic, PhaseOne Capture One software and Adobe Photoshop CS2.

So, anyway, that is a little about me, and what I want this blog to be. I hope you enjoy.